Friday, July 08, 2005

unintended hurricanes

Due to ongoing climate change, which is itself linked to explodin' carbon based fuels at the pleasure and leisure of carbon based life forms, our planet is being terraformed along more interesting lines...

NOAA predicts two or three hurricanes to hit U.S.

Frank Lepore of the National Hurricane Center said scientists were looking at warmer ocean temperatures as a possible factor in this year's forecast.
"The issue, really, this year is the anomalously warm sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic," Lepore said.

What do we win?

Hurricane Winds Reach 135 Mph, Forcing Florida Keys Evacuations
Hurricane Dennis strengthened overnight into the strongest storm ever this early in the Atlantic hurricane season, forcing mandatory evacuations in parts of the Florida Keys.
Florida (is) still recovering and rebuilding after a devastating storm season last year (...) A record four hurricanes -- Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne -- struck the state last year and caused almost $23 billion in property damage.

But guess what -- the oil industry is still recovering and rebuilding along the gulf coast as well. Maybe that is why:

Oil Rises in New York as Hurricane Dennis Heads for U.S. Gulf
"The hurricane is a major concern at the moment,'' said Gerard Burg, a minerals economist at National Australia Bank Ltd. in Melbourne. "If we see similar damage, we could see oil prices breaching $70 a barrel and could approach $80.''

$70 a barrel. Paging Michael Lynch. Cassandra on line two.

Now the fuel we burned in an obvious effort to make weather more exciting is going to cost more because OUR WEATHER IS MORE EXCITING. This recursive pattern should bootstrap paranoia for the next fifteen years or so, or at least until all the oil rigs in the gulf are sleepin' with the fishes.

Let's get busy on terraforming things back to the way they were.


At 12:44 PM, July 09, 2005, Blogger SW said...

I have been admonished by a journalist who has read a paper in Science, that global warming doesn't lead to an increase in Hurricanes. I'm so glad he set me straight.

At 8:00 PM, July 09, 2005, Blogger monkeygrinder said...

Scientists are often cautious about stating the obvious. They may use language which deflects attention from probable outcomes of scientific inquiry.

This approach works well for scientific, skeptical inquiry.

Laymen are free to leap to conclusions.

At 1:41 PM, July 11, 2005, Anonymous Halfin said...

The reason why global warming doesn't lead to an increase in hurricanes is actually pretty interesting. We all know that hurricanes get their energy from warm ocean waters. They speed up and become more powerful over warm water and begin to die off immediately over land. So if global warming will warm up the oceans (which it will), why wouldn't it cause an increase in hurricane intensity?

The reason is because the hurricane strength is not dependent just on the ocean temperature. Rather, it depends on the DIFFERENCE between the ocean temperature and the upper atomosphere air temperature. It is this temperature difference or differential which acts as a heat engine and gives the hurricane its energy. Heat moves from the hot ocean to the cold air and in the process produces all the effects that create and sustain the hurricane.

So the problem, in terms of global warming, is that while it will heat up the oceans, it will also heat up the air. The net result is that there is very little change in the heat differential which drives hurricanes. The precise degree of change is hard to predict since there is considerable uncertainty in all of the global warming models. Global warming could conceivably make hurricanes worse, but it could also make them better. Most likely there will be little net change compared to the natural variability in hurricane strength and frequency.

At 5:40 PM, July 11, 2005, Blogger SW said...

Well of course you nailed it with respect to uncertainty. While I respect climate scientists and have done a fair amount of modeling myself, I believe that the climate is a complex non-linear system. Therefore, it is inherently loaded with uncertainty. Those who argue against taking action against the buildup of greenhouse gases often point to the uncertainty in the climate models as reason for inaction. I look at the uncertainty and shit my pants. Yes, in principle, if the water and the air heat up at precisely the same rate and in the same location there will be no change in the gradient. Taking any bets on that? I think that ultimate utility of the models is limited. The best thing to do is to stop the freaking experiment!

At 7:31 PM, July 11, 2005, Blogger monkeygrinder said...

Thanks SW - a couple of additional thoughts.

Air cools faster than water, all things being equal. Oceans, once they are heated up, stay hot, while cool air can blow in and out, creating the conditions needed more extreme hurricanes.

This ties in with the general global warming model, which says that general warming at any point on the globe is not a given, but that there will be more weather extremes - more violent weather.

A good book, written in the last decade, "A change in the weather" details some of these topics - weather models, contrarians, extreme weather, etc.


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